A Transition From Fashion to Design
What’s it like to study online, as we emerge from the pandemic? Courtney Nicli is a creative career changer making a splash in the final year of her AOS in Graphic Design program. Our Senior Director of Student Services Tyler Drake recently caught up with Courtney to find out why she chose an online path for her creative education.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to change your career path from fashion merchandising to graphic design?
In 2020, the store I worked at closed for two months due to the pandemic and quarantine mandates. I had time to reflect on what I wanted to do long-term. Although my career was creative, I was burnt out from the retail environment. I had previously taken courses in graphic design because I was always interested in it. So I decided to make the switch, and was able to transfer some credits which made the process much smoother.
Graphic design and art has always been my hobby. I have done some freelance work for friends, creating business cards, posters, and CD covers. I also opened an Etsy shop called Eloquent Folk with stationary and art prints.
Q: What brought you to Sessions College to study graphic design?
When I was looking into going back to school, I was searching for a program that was 100% remote and affordable. I chose Sessions because it is tailored for learners of all walks of life. I already had a Bachelor’s degree and did the typical 4-year college experience, and was working full-time. I needed something more practical and straightforward that would get me to where I wanted to be.
I was debating going the self-taught route for graphic design but ultimately decided a degree is essential for marketability to employers and providing the structure for learning. It’s so great to be part of an educational environment where I can get feedback from professors and peers as well.
Q: How has the flexibility of online study helped you pursue your education and fit into your life?
It has been amazing and allowed me to pursue opportunities while going to school that would not be possible otherwise. I was able to move cities, and have open availability when applying to different jobs. It also gives me time for family, friends, and hobbies.
Q: Which course(s) have been most challenging, fun, or rewarding, and why?
I think the most challenging course has probably been Photoshop I because it was the program I was least familiar with. It deals with technical skill, and now I am very comfortable with it and use it everyday! Another challenging course was UX/UI Design. This class deals with more than just visuals. Learning about how things work from a user’s experience is essential today. The most rewarding class has been Packaging Design because I really enjoy it and love seeing a mockup of a physical product.
Q: What tips do you have on applying your design skills outside of the classroom?
It’s important to explore the topics we learn in our courses outside of class. I think we are given great curriculum but it is up to us what we do with it and how much we choose to grasp it and practice it. Practicing personal projects outside of our assignments is also important and helps keep the creative juices flowing.
Getting professional experience is also key. Right now, I work at a print shop and am learning all about this side of graphic design. I do a bit of design work, and assist in the preparation of files for printing. It is my first professional experience in a graphic design related job, and I really love it!
Tyler Drake is the Senior Director of Student Services at Sessions College. Tyler earned a Masters Degree in Sports Leadership at Concordia University Chicago. He is passionate about sports, movies, music, family, and the benefits of a quality education.